Former FBI Director Comey called on Americans to vote for Democrats, while Brennan, the former Central Intelligence Agency director, said Trump's comments in Helsinki were "treasonous". Pressed on why Trump has repeatedly passed on opportunities to publicly condemn Putin's actions, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested Trump was working to make the most of an "opportunity" for the two leaders to work together on shared interests.
"My people came to me - Dan Coats came to me, some others - they said they think it's Russia", Trump said, referring to the United States director of national intelligence.
"As Brian Bennett writes in this week's cover story, 'A year and a half into his presidency, Trump's puzzling affinity for Putin has yet to be explained".
Amid the backlash, the president later said he misspoke when he cited Putin's "extremely strong and powerful" denial of Russian meddling - despite the conclusions by United States intelligence services. "The president and his administration are working very hard to make sure that Russian Federation is unable to meddle in our elections as they have done in the past".
It was the second time since the summit that Trump and the White House have blamed a misstatement or misunderstanding for the furore over Russian Federation.
Mr. Trump tweeted about the potential "second meeting" with the Kremlin Thursday. "There's a lot of people out there".
The announcement comes on the heels of bipartisan criticism of Trump's statements after the two leaders met in Helsinki on Monday.More news: Sen. Johnson: Putin wrong about Russian Federation election meddling
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Trump appeared to give credence to denials by Putin that Russian Federation had interfered in the 2016 US presidential election or was planning to do so in the future, despite the conclusions of USA intelligence and law enforcement agencies and congressional committees that Moscow intervened in the 2016 election with a state-directed campaign of hacking and public-opinion manipulation. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to slap new sanctions on Russian Federation or any other country caught posting ads, running fake news or otherwise interfering with election infrastructure.
He also lashed out at Europe and US-dominated North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, saying - without elaboration - that Russian Federation would hit back with an "equivalent response" to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation bases near Russia's borders and other "aggressive steps".
Pushing back against criticism of first meeting, Trump accused the news media of trying to provoke a confrontation with Moscow that could lead to war, although concerns about the summit have been raised by a broad cross-section of Republicans and Democrats.
Putin said in a speech to Russian ambassadors gathered in Moscow that "it's naive to think that the problems would be solved in a few hours".
But they're going about it in entirely the wrong way.
The director of national intelligence would have been there.
In rebutting Trump's dismissive comments about U.S. intelligence on Monday, Coats said, "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy".